BJP MP Tejasvi Surya sparked a communal campaign against the retail chain Fabindia after the apparel brand referred to Diwali as "Jashn-e-Riwaaz" in an advertisement campaign released ahead of Diwali.
Jashn-E-Riwaaz translates to 'celebration of tradition'. The advertisement made headlines for all the wrong reasons.
Bharatiya Janata Party's Bengaluru South MP Tejasvi Surya saw it as a "deliberate misadventure" and said that the brand "must face economic costs".
"Deepavali is not Jashn-e-Riwaaz. This deliberate attempt of abrahamisation of Hindu festivals, depicting models without traditional Hindu attires, must be called out," he tweeted.
'Instead, Pick Issues That Matter'
The Quint reached out to youths in Bengaluru to get their perspective on the controversy. They have a message for Surya: "Speak responsibly".
Puran Choudhary, a Bengaluru youth and journalist said, “I want to ask him, why are you not talking about unemployment issues, fuel prices, since you’re from Bengaluru, the bad roads from Bengaluru where you and I can’t even travel peacefully.”
Vasudha Kaukuntla said, “The fact that this is not the first time he has done it and he has got such a huge following from the youth of Karnataka, my question is, is he really living up to it?”
Some also asked the MP to refrain from making biased, controversial statements as he is in a position of responsibility.
“If you can not separate your personal bias from your job role, especially one as crucial as being a member of parliament, then it is totally wrong,” Shoubhik Ghosh," a youth from Bengaluru said.
Brand Targeted for Hurting Sentiments
The Fabindia outrage is not one of its kind. Netizens, public representatives have time and again raised issue with brands for hurting religious sentiments.
“The Fabindia advertisement and the outrage that we see is a result of a very well-oiled machine that targets the insecurities of the majority of this country,” Kesava Balaji, a policy associate in Bengaluru said.
“My father doesn’t naturally feel outraged about it, but is made to feel outraged about it,” he said.
Thejas Sundar, a professor in Bengaluru said: “In India what also has been lacking for a long time is probably different ways of looking at the same culture.”
He also said that we shouldn't be batting so much of an eye as to how these ads are throwing some messages.
“In India what also has been lacking for a long time is probably different ways of looking at the same culture.”Thejas Sundar, a Teacher
He also said that we shouldn't be batting so much of an eye when it comes to advertisement messages released by brands.
Support for Fabindia
Even as #BoycottFabIndia trended on Twitter, some people came out in favour of Fabindia, claiming the boycott is baseless.
“Jashn-e-riwaz means a celebration of traditions. So, isn’t Hinduism about celebrating and taking pride in our centuries-old tradition? How can a word weaken your faith in Hinduism?” asked Ashritha Raghvn, a student.
“We expect a little more out of the people we elect as our representatives,” said Sneha Agarwal, a copywriter in Bengaluru.
Targeting Ads a Pattern?
In September, bridal wear brand Manyavar Mohey released a commercial featuring Alia Bhatt, which received mixed reactions from netizens. Some accused the brand of promoting ‘anti-Hindu’ sentiment, while others lauded the ad’s ‘progressive message’. The advertisement had obliquely criticised, Kanya Daan, a ritual where the bride is 'given away'. The advertisement promoted equality of sexes and batted for 'Kanya Maan'.
In October, Twitter was flooded with calls to boycott Tanishq. Trolls targeted the jewellery brand for an advertisement that showed an interfaith marriage and a baby shower ceremony. Tanishq was trolled for promoting 'love jihad', forcing the brand to take down the advertisement.
Following backlash from BJP MP Tejasvi Surya and several netizens, Fabindia decided to take down the ad ‘Jashn-e-Riwaaz’.
In a statement, a Fabindia spokesperson said, "We at FabIndia have always stood for the celebration of India with its myriad traditions in all hues. Our current capsule of products under the name Jashn-e-Riwaaz is a celebration of Indian traditions. The phrase means that, literally. The capsule is not our Diwali Collection of products. Our Diwali collection is called 'Jhilmil si Diwali' and is yet to be launched."